Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Me to Tell Me

Comment: "What I like matters, too."
Question "Did you really need me to tell you that?"
Reply "Nope, I needed me to tell me that."

The words rolled off my tongue easily, but I felt strange saying them. I'd prepared myself to declare the importance of what I like, but I hadn't anticipated the response or my response to the response. And, I realized it was true.

As the words left my mouth and lingered in the air - and were answered with silence, I stood and reflected on them for a minute. As a matter of fact, they stayed with me the rest of the night. I ended up writing the following poem.

“I needed me to tell me”
The words surprised me
When I heard them come from my mouth
The truth of them
Stopped me mid-step
Threw me off-balance
Left me speechless
For a second
I stood still in my thoughts
Realized I announced aloud
That I refuse to need permission
From anyone but me
For my likes
For my wants
For my needs
For my desires
For my loves
For my likes
For my life
In that moment I embraced
That I don’t need nor do I want
External permission or approval
I really only need
Me to tell me

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how often I've relegated my life to others, not intentionally, of course, but as an attempt to keep peace or find a compromise.

When we stop granting ourselves permission to live, we stop living. When we stop granting ourselves permission to play, we stop playing. When we stop granting ourselves permission to have pleasure, pleasure disappears and takes desire right along with it. When we stop granting ourselves permission to like the things we like because someone else might not, we stop liking anything.

At some point, my desire to create harmony silenced my voice as I became confused about what I liked because I was always worried about whether or not someone else would like the same things I liked. I didn't want to be judged for my choices either way, so I kept my opinions to myself about many things. I forgot that my likes and dislikes matter, too.

But, like most things denied, my likes and dislikes demanded to be heard and acknowledged. People may not like what I like and they may like what I don't, but that's okay. We don't all need to like the same things, and nothing makes one person's like or dislikes more or less valid than another person's. I now stand ready to say "I like it, and I don't have to defend my preferences to you or anyone else." What a fabulously liberating feeling!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Reading Poetry on Thunderous Thursday!!

I recently read my poetry on Thunderous Thursdays with DJ Maureen. I had a great time! You can listen to the reading and interview here:

Reading Poetry on Thunderous Thursdays

Monday, March 18, 2013

Asking for Help Equals Vulnerability

"Asking makes you vulnerable." This statement grabbed my attention and shook me until my teeth rattled when Amanda Palmer said it in her TED Talk. I whispered it to myself. I said it aloud in the room. I went back and listened to the talk again days later to think about this one statement again.

Vulnerability and I have never been best friends. We've always had a bit of a love/hate relationship. Friends have complained "You never ask for help." and I don't know what they're talking about. I think I ask for help. I have an overwhelming fear of being overly needy and pushing people away with my neediness. But I really do think I ask for help; however, I don't like feeling vulnerable. I've written about my struggle with vulnerability a few times before. Most recently in Finding Strength in Vulnerability, but perhaps more on target in Self-destruction Masquerades as Strength.

I like to think I'm strong, and I learned early in life that asking for help has a tendency to expose weaknesses. I don't want to be seen as weak even when I feel weak because someone might decide to use my weakness against me. It's happened before...

I always try to do things myself before I ask for help. It's the way I think. Why should I ask anyone to do what I can do for myself? My Daddy always said "If you want something done right, do it yourself." I've come to realize that should be interpreted as "If you want something done your way, do it yourself." Yet, every time I start to ask someone else for help, I hesitate, not because I don't think others will do it right but because I don't see why I should ask someone else to do what I can do myself. This leads me to sometimes take on far more than I can do in the amount of time given, and then I find myself wondering why no one is helping me. Then I have to admit it's because I never asked anyone to help.

There are some things I really can't do for myself. For example, I am reliant on an audience to buy my books in order to have a career as an author.

In the talk, Palmer talks about giving her music away and letting people pay for it instead of making them. This may sound like simply playing a semantics game, but as I understand it, her music is actually free. In fact, I went to her website, and there is music available for free and a request to "support my mission" by entering an amount to pay. Apparently, people do pay voluntarily.

I run offers to download the Kindle versions of my books from time to time. Every time I have to tell people it's available for free, and every time I struggle with the part where I actually have to ask people to download it for free. Intellectually, I know I'm offering them a special deal, but I'm still asking them to download it. What if they say "no"? What if absolutely no one downloads even a single copy when it's available for free? My vulnerabilities kick in. The fear of rejection that I think I don't possess shows up uninvited. I give myself a little pep talk and promise myself I won't take it personally if no one shows up.

I've downloaded free Kindle books when other authors have offered them, and I have a lot of them to read right now. I will read them, and I will review them. I actually feel more of an obligation to review the free copies I receive than I do books I buy. I feel like it's the least I can do to show my support for the authors. Not that I'm going to stop reviewing books I buy. I just don't feel a stronger sense of wanting to pay it forward.

I have no problem asking others to buy the books of my friends, but to ask them to buy mine feels too much like begging or boasting or some weird combination of the two. But, I'm not different than any other writer, I need to sell books in order to keep writing, in order to keep sharing my work. So, maybe, just maybe, you'd like to buy one of my books now. Don't worry, I'll let you pay me for it. You might even like what you read...

Oh, and to make it easy for you, here are two links:

My Amazon Central Author Page (feel free to "like" me while you're there.)
My Website (where you can order signed copies

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

High Horses

Kentucky Horse Park - May 2012
Recently in the course of a conversation with a friend, we were discussing anger and I mentioned how much easier I find facing life's challenges since I've let go of anger. I went on to explain that it felt like letting go of anger invited opportunities to anger me into my life. In illustrating how I recently faced a moment of anger that lead to a moment of hate that inspired my blog post, Humbled by a Moment of Hate, I mentioned, in a very cliched moment, that the moment of hate "knocked me off my high horse" to which my friend interrupted with something along the lines of "So you know you get on your high horse." much to my surprise. But perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised. All I could think in the moment, though, was that we all have moments when we climb on our high horses...

Still, over the next week or so, my thoughts went back to the comment multiple times. To the point, I Googled the phrase just to verify it meant what I thought it meant. It does, essentially. And, here's the thing, I'm befuddled. I truly am. I don't see myself as morally superior to other people, but I began to wonder if other people think that's what I think.

I'm really not sure what to do with this criticism. In all fairness, my friend did seek to soften the blow by telling me the comment wasn't intended to be critical; however, I'm really not sure what else it could be.
Here's the thing, I'm very confident in my moral standards; however, I don't expect anyone else to live by my moral standards. I don't think I have all the answers or that people who live lives different from mine are any less moral than me. I seek to not judge others just as I hope others won't judge me.

I often write about, or otherwise share, what I've learned through my life experience, but I'm fully aware that I'm still learning and growing into my best self. I refuse to give up the confidence I've gained through my struggles with life and finding the balance between the life I live and the life I dream of living.

Many years ago, anger ruled my life. Anger was my go-to emotion. Righteous indignation was my best friend. When anger ruled, I found it easier to ignore what I really felt- disappointed, hurt, abandoned, vulnerable, etc. When I let go of anger, I had to dig deeper and feel what I really felt. It was hard work, and it felt like torture. Anger was easy by comparison. In anger, I could scream and yell whatever I wanted and be as irrational as I wanted to be. I could hold grudges and refuse to see anyone else's side of a situation. I could push people away and blame them for it. After all, when anger was my go-to emotion, I always had someone else to blame because it was always about whom or what made me angry, not about what role I played or what different choices I could've made.

Then one day I realized anger made me the victim. Anger took away my power. Anger left me at the mercy of others. That's when I decided to take control of my life. The first step was to admit that I played a leading role in my own life instead of a supporting role. I found that revelation quite empowering.

Immediately after I started trying to live from a place of anything other than anger, I felt like I was more angry than ever. It took me a while to realize that I kept attracting anger to me because it was what I was used to as well as because part of releasing anger was recognizing it when it arrived. Anger is a natural emotion and is even appropriate at times. When anger becomes a way of life, everything else gets snuffed out. Anger itself can become addictive. I soon discovered that when I look behind anger and find the truth of what I feel, I can move on more quickly, forgive more readily, and find solutions more easily.

As I let go of anger, I began to feel less negative about life. Positivity began to find its way into my life. I started to see possibilities and the good that surrounded me. I began to feel grateful for everything life brought into my life including the lessons I learned from the bad things in my life.

Eventually, I discovered I could live my life from a place of love. It isn't always easy. There are times when I still struggle with anger, negativity, love, and positivity; however, I find life is so much better now that I don't allow anger to rule my life.

Kentucky Horse Park - May 2012
I've never claimed, nor even thought, that I have it all figured out. I just like to share what I learn about life in hopes it will help someone else. To me that's what life is all about... Is that putting myself on a high horse? I don't think so, but I guess I just have to accept that other people might see it that way...